The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently conducted a survey asking over 1,000 stakeholders in the trucking industry what they believed to be the biggest issues facing the industry today. Hours of service (HOS) was the biggest concern, at number one, CSA at number two, and third on the list was driver shortage. The new HOS rules cut down the number of hours an employee can drive, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of miles a company can travel. To keep up with losses in productivity and increases in demand, motor carriers are now looking for more commercial drivers. However, according to ATRI, in 2014, the trucking industry was 38,000 drivers short, and that number is expected to increase to nearly 48,000 by the end of 2015. With the demand for more commercial drivers, and with the shortage of drivers, motor carriers are more likely to hire drivers with a questionable driving record history, increasing the probability of future accidents. With the issues that the trucking industry is facing, it’s essential that motor carriers find, hire, and retain the safest drivers.
Liability For Negligent Hiring Of Truck Drivers
Since motor carriers are looking to hire more drivers and have a smaller pool to choose from, they may feel pressure to rush the hiring process. This leads to looking over things they normally wouldn’t, such as poor driving history. This behavior often leads to claims of negligent hiring, which can jeopardize a carriers’ reputation and finances. According to Zurich’s White Paper: Negligent Hiring: How to reduce your chances of hiring a claim, “employers are usually on the losing end of negligent hiring cases, losing about 75 percent of the time, and the average settlement of such claims is $1 million.”
In this example of a negligent driver hiring case, Linhart v. Heyl Logistics LLC from 2012, we can see just how dangerous the lack properly screening drivers can be.
Broker, Heyl Logistics, was found liable for negligent hiring of the motor carrier, Washington Transportation. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit Linhart, who was standing outside of his truck on the side of the road. Since Heyl maintained poor records of its carrier qualification process, and had no records of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration screen, which showed the carrier’s status at the date of hiring. The jury found Heyl liable for 32% of the punitive damages resulting in Heyl paying around $1.67-million.
Motor carriers can protect themselves from claims of negligence in multiple ways. First, and most importantly, is to hire the safest drivers. The best way to ensure that a driver is safe is by looking at his/hers motor vehicle record (MVR). MVRs provide a complete background on a driver’s driving habits, license status, medical certificate, and past accidents. The second step is to properly train each driver. Having a structured training program will show that the motor carrier is taking the necessary steps to produce the safest drivers possible. However, just doing these two things at the beginning of the hiring process will not protect a motor carrier from a negligent claim. A carrier must show due diligence by constantly monitoring their drivers to ensure that they are in compliance with federal regulations.
Driver license monitoring can make it easy to constantly monitoring driving records, not only new hires, but also veteran employees. Service alerts the motor carrier of any changes to a driver’s MVR in a timely manner, which allows the carrier to take the proper actions.
Driver License Monitoring provides instant access to access to employees’ driving record status and new moving violations and suspensions.